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The 2010 Girl Scout cookie sales may have officially ended in March, but the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan are still celebrating everyone’s favorite confection with the annual Cookie Gala.

This is the seventh year for the scouts’ largest fundraiser (next to cookie sales), in which chefs from Michigan’s finest restaurants gather to create delectable desserts using Girl Scout cookies as the main ingredient. Last year’s Cookie Gala raised more than $80,000 to support programming for girls.

Each chef is randomly assigned a cookie variety, including the new Thank U Berry Munch, a cranberry chip cookie.

This year, 13 restaurants are participating, including the Lark in West Bloomfield Township (pastry chef Dino Challon); Andiamo Riverfront in Detroit (executive chef Eddie Bailey); the Historic White Horse Inn in Metamora (chef Tim Wilkins); St. Clair Inn in St. Clair (executive chef Glenn Staley); and Small Plates in Detroit (sous chef Daniel Huizar). While the competition is in great fun, every chef wants the opportunity to come away a winner.

Jeff Baldwin, chef/owner of J. Baldwin’s in Clinton Township, just might have the competition licked with his Do-Si-Do lollipop made from the peanut butter sandwich cookie.

“I’m making a cheesecake center using the cream from the cookie then dipping it in chocolate  and rolling it in the cookie crumbs,” Baldwin said. He’s serving the cute little pops on lollipop sticks.

“This is my second year and it’s really a lot of fun,” he said.

Chef Tim Voss of Mosaic restaurant in Detroit is keeping his creation a little closer to the vest, admitting only that his cookie is the popular Thin Mint.

“This is my first year, so I’m a bit nervous,” said Voss, “but wow, what a great cookie.”

Past galas have been held in March, said Kenya Youngblood, fund development specialist for the council, but “because we have realigned six Girl Scout councils into one, it will be a bigger event held in a bigger venue.” The newly formed council now represents 59,000 girls in grades K-12 in Sanilac, St. Clair, Lapeer, Genesee, Macomb, Oakland and parts of Livingston, Monroe and Wayne counties.

Last year, the scouts sold 2,962,800 packages of cookies and earned more than $1,670,000 in troop proceeds.

“We’ve also expanded the list of restaurants so that all parts of the area are included (in the gala),” Youngblood said.

Guests are invited to join Channel 7’s (WXYT-TV) Glenda Lewis, who will host the event and serve as Cookie Diva, along with judges including Rich Luterman (Fox 2), Miss Michigan Nicole Blaszczyk, & Sen. Marcus Scott.

Cookies will be available for purchase at the event and, after the gala, restaurants will feature their new creation on their menus for a few weeks.

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